For more than a decade, The National Institute for Hometown Security (NIHS) has supported the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) mission to protect the nation's critical infrastructure and strengthen the resilience of these vital systems that underpin the American economy and our way of life. NIHS manages a successful and mature Technology Development & Deployment Program TDDP) that (1) engages qualified development teams from academia and industry to produce technologies that respond to well-defined needs and requirements and (2) facilitates the deployment of the technologies. TDDP maintains a flexible technology development platform that can quickly respond to development assignments, matching the need for the production of a technology product with the development capabilities that reside on university campuses and in private industry. NIHS designed TDDP to:
-Blend technology development with technology deployment.
-Engage technology end-users throughout the development cycle.
-Manage the technology development cycle from needs and requirements definition to out-the-door delivery of the final product.
Area of Interest
The NIHS area of interest is community-based critical infrastructure protection and resilience. DHS defines "critical infrastructure" as systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the disruption or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on national and economic security, national public health or safety or any combination of these matters. NIHS focuses on community-based infrastructure because most of the infrastructure to be protected is owned and operated by the private sector.
NIHS manages TDDP for the Office of Infrastructure Protection (OIP) which is a part of DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). NPPD leads the national effort to protect and enhance the resilience of the nation's physical and cyber infrastructure. OIP's role includes collaborating with critical infrastructure owners and operators to develop preparedness and resilience measures that enhance security.
A significant challenge to protecting and enhancing the resilience of the nation's critical infrastructure stems in part from the infrastructure's dispersed, but interconnected, nature and its diverse, private sector ownership. For example, the failure or diminished operating capacity of the electrical grid on one region may threaten the continued operation of the nation's telecommunications network, The failure of a water distribution system may impact a number of operations that rely on water service. These affected operations could include hospitals, manufacturing facilities as well as routine home life activities. Interruptions in the transportation system would generate repercussions in commercial activities. Because the infrastructure is held by thousands of owners, most of whom are in the private sector, the challenge to protect these systems is intensified by the need for collaboration and cooperation.
OIP recognizes its mission is complex due to the diversity, interdependent nature and ownership of the nation's critical physical and cyber infrastructure. The TDDP managed by NIHS provides OIP with operational agility to rapidly respond to emerging, as well as any persistent, needs and requirements that impair mission achievement.
The NIHS Mission
The NIHS mission is to discover, develop, and deploy solutions that protect the nation's community-based critical infrastructure from interruptions or destruction caused by man-made attacks or natural disasters. The mission also extends to solutions that enhance the resilience of critical infrastructure and its ability to quickly recover from a disruption.
NIHS is a private, non-profit 501(c)3 corporation, governed by a board of directors. NIHS was organized in 2004 through the leadership of Kentucky Fifth District Congressman Harold "Hal" Rogers to strengthen the security of the United States by supporting the development and deployment of technological and programmatic solutions that address critical infrastructure protection and resilience.
Congressman Rogers suggested organizing the higher education institutions of Kentucky to pursue activities and technological developments aimed at improving homeland security. The Kentucky Homeland Security University Consortium resulted from his efforts. NIHS engages the development resources of the members of the Consortium as well as qualified technology developers in academia and industry beyond the Consortium.
Through TDDP, NIHS provides an integrated, ongoing program dedicated to developing technologies that respond to needs and requirements identified by OIP and groups with which it collaborates. The TDDP process follows a cycle that begins with OIP identifying a technology development initiative. Before development work begins, TDDP assures the needs and requirements are well-defined. NIHS then organizes a development team with the capabilities to undertake and complete the initiative. At all times throughout the development phase, TDDP assures that potential end-users of the technology under development are engaged in the process, providing feedback about and assessments of the project under development at various checkpoints.
A key element of the TDDP strategy meshes technology development with activities with transition the development into use. Each initiative undertaken begins with the outlook the technology development product will be placed into use, either through a traditional commercialization path or along a transition-to-use track that most often involves a non-commercial deployment. NIHS provides commercialization training to members of TDDP development teams and assists with advanced commercialization tasks.